Jun 30, 2019 • 11M

Ep 08 - On a Call With David Tolzmann, Labyrinth Maker

Lee Schneider
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500 Words is a podcast about living a creative life. Short-form interviews with creative people from film, music, design, multi-media and more. Conducted by Lee Schneider.

This week's phone call is with David Tolzmann. 

David is the founder of The Labyrinth Company, which designs and builds walkable labyrinths in all media. He’s designed and crafted labyrinths in churches, medical centers, hospices, friaries, retreat centers, and schools, and for spiritual counselors, businesses, and individual homeowners all over the world.

He made his first labyrinth nearly 25 years ago because a church group asked him to recreate a version of the world’s best-known labyrinth. “They thought I was an engineer and they were trying to recreate the labyrinth from Chartres Cathedral which is very complex. But it happened that I knew the labyrinth and I was able to help them because I am mathematically inclined. I'm not an engineer, but I must have given that impression.” he said.

I have a friend who calls a labyrinth a left-brain jamming device. Your left brain gets involved in solving a puzzle that doesn’t exist. — David Tolzmann

A labyrinth is a single path to the center of a pattern. There is no puzzle. But when you walk the path, the logical side of your brain gets busy, leaving the other side of your brain to explore spirituality, creativity, and nonlinear thinking. That’s the “pop psychology” version of what’s going on, as David puts it, but it captures the process well enough. He believes walking a labyrinth is a superior form of meditation for Westerners.

The first labyrinth design, the Seed Design, was discovered in Pylos, Greece. It dates to around 1200 BCE. “There was a transaction about goats, and on the back of the tablet is a labyrinth doodle.” This simple starting pattern has been transmitted to our time.

It's in every culture. It's in the American Southwest. It's in China. It's in India. It's in South Africa. The same design all over the place.

Thanks for listening,